Transporting Horses by Air for Dummies


By Olivia Wood

Transporting a horse safely from destination to destination over land can be a potentially stressful undertaking.

If you need to move your horse by air transportation, the workload doubles. In this article, we look at the basic requirements for ensuring your horse is comfortable and arrives in good health when traveling by air.


UK magazine Horse & Hound interviewed a traveling head girl for one of the country’s leading trainers and she stated that preparation is the most important part of air travel.

“There are a wide range of factors to take into account, including how training schedules fit in with lengthy flights, ensuring racehorses are fed and watered during the journey, dealing with quarantine regulations in different countries and ensuring that all the necessary paper work is in order ahead of traveling,” she told the magazine.

If planning a trip abroad, organization will be key. As the Head Girl explains, you will need to draw up a list of papers that need to be documented and signed by the appropriate authorities. Failure to do this will result in your horse being unable to travel or detained at the airport. Always check the country’s quarantine rules as well as some require lengthier stays than others. For example, if traveling to Australia, horses are required to spend two weeks in quarantine.

Food and Water Supply Management

Horses can react negatively to travel if they are not kept comfortable and air travel can be particularly stressful. Make sure there is sufficient hay and water for the entire journey. It is recommended that horses be given hay every four hours or a slow feed haynet to ensure they don’t eat too quickly or too much during travel. When traveling by air, a qualified vet should always accompany the horse in case of emergencies and to monitor the horse.

Working out the Cost

Transporting horses isn’t cheap! A CNBC  article on transporting horses to the Kentucky Derby estimates the cost to be anywhere between $8,000 to $30,000.

The plane will have to be charted and have special pens designed for horse travel. Like regular air travel, there are several different classes, which will be more cost effective. The more horses you are traveling with the lower cost, so it pays to find a partner and split the cost of the air travel. In addition to the flight, there are insurance coverage costs and travel fees for the vet accompanying the horse to factor in as well.

Transporting horses safely is a key component of equine care. While transporting a horse by land may seem different to moving them by plane, the principles concerning the animal’s comfort remain the same. The biggest difference is the cost.